Despite a push in recent decades to get more women into STEM careers, the field is still dominated by men. According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), “Women make up only 28% of the workforce in science, technology, engineering and math.” Read more in the following article, Fast Facts: Early Barriers to Girls & Women in STEM.
Here are a few ideas on how to spark STEM interest in girls:
Start a Club
Try a STEM club just for girls! Some ideas of clubs to start:
- Girls Who Code
- A Robotics team (FIRST LEGO League, VEX IQ Challenge, Wonder League
- A maker club that encourages hands-on building and tool exposure (DIY activities, woodworking, 3D printing, sewing with circuits)
- Destination Imagination
- An afterschool themed club where girls can explore various STEM activities (space, the environment, structures and architecture, music, etc.)
- Other organizations to check out for activity ideas:
Invite women in STEM careers to talk to your class, either in person or via Zoom. Reach out to local organizations, companies, or ask parents to talk about what they do.
Learning about the types of things that STEM professionals do on a daily basis, what problems they solve, and what excited them will give so much insight into why STEM careers can be so rewarding and interesting! Particularly for kids who don’t have any STEM professionals in their family or close friends, it might be a bit intimidating or mystifying what someone in an engineering field or other STEM career actually do.
Read More Books
Whether you read STEM picture books aloud to younger (or older!) students, read books that tie in well to STEM (such as The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, or The Martian for older students), books that feature strong women who GST (get stuff done, such as A Wrinkle in Time), or books that simply lend themselves well to STEM challenges (find ideas in the posts below), there are plenty of options to choose from! Find more ideas in these articles:
- STEM Picture Books that Spark Imagination
- Dive into a Great Book with STEM
- How to Choose the Perfect STEM Picture Book
- How to Incorporate STEM Into Literacy
Support a Cause
Do you have students that want to make a difference? Is there a local cause (environmental, societal, in school) you could recruit student helpers for, and then tie in STEM in some way? Tap into your students’ desire to make the world a better place, and try doing it with STEM! If you have 3D printers, you might be able to create and distribute mask ear savers or some other helpful device for your community. Start a community garden, DIY the beds, and learn about science along the way. Your older students can volunteer their time with a STEM nonprofit or be a volunteer helper for an elementary or middle school robotics team or an after-school STEM program.
Encouraging STEM activities in middle and high school girls and young women is so important, but it is even easier to do when we start young. Starting to encourage young girls in STEM normalizes it for them and helps them gain the confidence, particularly in math and science, that is so often lost in the adolescent years.
More Ways to Get Girls and Women Involved in STEM
More articles and ideas to get girls involved in STEM:
- Women in STEM from Melanie Flores of Octogifts
- Closing the STEM Gap from the AAUW
- 6 Things that Can Help Propel girls in STEM from IEEE Spectrum
- Female Students Require a Different Approach from NASSP